Monday, July 31, 2006
A wee while time ago I applied us for the Guardian Social Entrepreneur Awards. Fair amount of dosh, a whiz under noses of some useful judgepersons and... major media coverage!
Well, we're through to the next stage. How's about that? OK, so probably a lot of other fine folk are too, but it's better than a 'Sorry, but..' letter.
Wish us luck in September when we (taking First Lady PJ who has a bit more chance of keeping us suit-friendly with the forms than yours truly) go to make the next level pitch.
They both hail from the USA. I pose a question whose answer I think we all know... would I have heard back in this way, or even at all, if it had been addressed to media of any form closer to home?
Saturday, July 29, 2006
The other day I was in London, haunting the corridors of power, mixing with the governing class... getting nowhere fast. Of this, more later.
It does coincide with this little piece, about amounts of money blown, poorly, on 'communications', a subject dear (in every sense of the word) to my heart: There are far easier ways to excite teenagers
Of course, I could not resist a thought of my own.:
"There's nothing difficult in spending oodles of taxpayers' money, especially when it is on 'communication'. What IS easy is avoiding being pinned down to a defined ROI for such an exercise, yet if challenged conjure up a result that 'meets target' by producing an increase in 'awareness'. Effecting the tangible result of real change is a tad more tricky. After years in the ad game, I would wish all clients were so generous with their money and oversight. But then, they usually have products designed to be actually bought."
What was good about yesterday was the seeming commitment to helping business help the community. It remains to be seen if the juicy plums of ad budgets as part of that process stay with an elite, and seemingly unaccountable, few.
I am shamed. But my eyebrow also twitches. And it's all because of this: Teachers 'prefer ethical gifts'
Last Friday saw my kids break up for summer. The morning saw a mad dash to get a card drawn up and a quick rummage in the kitchen cupboard managed to locate, with relief, a box of (non-Fairtrade?) Maltesers left over from last month's birthday party. With many assurances that this would be replaced, it was duly donated.
Our one small tilt to enviro-considerations was wrapping it in newspaper. Mrs. Jones does run the eco-club as well, after all.
But I have to say that I did not for one second ponder going the full monty ethically, as suggested here. Mainly because it did not occur to me... and certainly not in time.
And while it all seems a plan, I just wonder what the basis of this research was. Guy from the educational media standing there saying 'Do you, a guardian of our nation's youth and future, think it better to get a nice box of All Gold or bottle of Merlot, or do you think it's your job to point the little angels even further on the path of righteousness?'.
A while ago I stopped to help one of my sons' mate's mums change a tyre. She dropped off a nice red subsequently. I'm not sure a goat would have been quite the same.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Hence, while not strictly green, I look at this from today's Mail, which is about energy, so it is pertinent:
The Government has urged energy customers to switch suppliers after British Gas announced further price hikes. It is the fourth price rise in less than two years and follows a 22 per cent increase in March.
Woo. The Government. And in the Daily Mail what's more. So it must be a good idea, right? On balance it seems to make sense.
But then.... you find something like this trots along from another direction, this time Martin Lewis' Money-Saving Expert (go to his site to get the full skinny):
British Gas Major Price Rise Don't listen to anyone saying 'switch supplier now!' - British Gas has just announced a 12.4% gas price rise and 9.4% electricity price rise effective 4 September. You'll read comments telling you 'switch, switch, switch', yet that message is pumped by companies with a vested interest in churning the market. Actually the sensible thing to do is sit tight!
I respect this guy, his sources and his advice a lot. So I think I'll stick with this.
But what about all the other 'official' 'You shoulds...' we get, especially in the e-area?
I have been meaning to write about the whole 'free eBay'/swap arena for a while, and may soon do a formal review, but this - freecycle: TM, and R.I.P. - in today's Grist (an e-letter well worthy of subscribing to... for free) has moved me to put digit to keyboard now.
It’s always sad when something so fundamentally ‘good’, such as anything that’s not just talking about trying to save the planet but actually doing something (I’m big on tangibles) gets compromised – to any degree – by... talking. But I guess we all can't resist having opinions. So I simply advocate the notion of ‘whatever works!’, which does not exclude constructive criticism.
Freecycle is a true phenomenon, and certainly already has a firm foothold here in the UK. It is also about the only serious such initiative around that I'm aware of - not counting our little JunkkYard.
I'm pretty sure all the corporate, legalistic shenanigans would and possibly could not occur here, but we'll see. Academic anyway, as it hardly affects anything.
The issue seems to be cultural. Personally I had trouble (hey, ours is not perfect and we're always working on it... funds permitting) coping with the system Freecycle used/s and have given up with it. But a lot do. So if asked we will happily advocate trying JunkkYard AND Freecycle (and now a few others this post has made me aware of, if they are over here). Why not? They're both free, not exclusive and achieve the same result. And we gain from being helpful all round, so with luck will get revisited. So what is being defended here?
As a consumer you go where you feel comfortable. In the UK I sensed the same 'clique' tensions creeping in. When I could be bothered to read the vast numbers of daily emails, there'd often be sniping going on. Why so heavy? Who needs it?
For sure we're keen to create a community, and there is a Forum for people to engage, but mostly it's just a tool. Like some others mentioned, our model is much more Google or eBay. Donor/Beneficiary. Post/Surf. Offer/Collect. Beyond providing the matchmaking mechanism (and enjoying passive exposure to the traffic created) what other involvement is required?
We opened from day one with our hearts on our sleeves... well, our business model up there on our banners.
Much like Anita Roddick's sale of Body Shop, if you start as one thing, you can probably expect to cop some flak when you try and change the fundamentals. Especially having established with a super-ethical ‘no money involved’ stance, to trying to turn a buck, even if it’s just to keep funding the whole shebang. And moving from voluntary to sponsored will put a few supporters' noses out. Sadly the whole e-movement can be quite ‘purist’ in approach when it comes to making green, and beyond grubby money, standards of hotly advocated 'best practice' (who decides?) can also often alienate those who are a lighter shade and lives to get on with.
Frankly I can't quite see what’s the problem (being commercial that is). However, being uber-precious and especially getting the shark suits involved does not seem productive. I wonder who funds this aspect? And why? Does this suggest a another, possibly more financially-aspirational agenda?
If it is, consumer preferences and market forces will decide. Welcome to the club.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I have tended to prefer such the Telegraph version to some other major media, because there is point in contributing beyond venting, as you do have the chance of a credit, and this can be of value. We have had sign-ups to the site as a consequence of my posting to these things in the past.
Now I am thinking of pulling back from these arenas, as explained by this subsequent post I have been moved to add (and may or may not get 'approved' at all, much less 'as is', despite the following: 'telegraph.co.uk does not monitor, approve, endorse or exert editorial control over information posted by users'. Which I had taken to mean what one wrote, so long as it followed guidelines, was what went up. But apparently not):
"It hadn't occurred to me until now that, despite having a few issues to cover and working within a stated limit, what one has contributed even to a Blog/Forum can be edited before sharing. And this of course can seriously affect context. Not to mention shape the direction of the piece in the direction of the media controller's agenda. It can enhance the pros or cons of an issue, or simply keep things bubbling ratings-wise by emphasising the best 'bites'.
This has added to my doubts about the value of such things, but in mitigation here at least I offer a 'big up' (or maybe it should be 'God bless') to the power of the blogging system and its participants. Thanks to some today, I realise I should have been much more concerned with discovering further substance on what the good Bishop may or may not have said, and done or not have done, before so enthusiastically endorsing a piece that was quite harsh on his words and deeds, at least as reported. As we're on a theological roll, to paraphrase Pastor Niemoller , 'First they selectively quoted the Bishops, and I did not speak, yadayada... and now they have selectively quoted me and no one had the time (or inclination) to delve any deeper to find out what I'd really said'.
Otherwise I think most of what I anticipated earlier has been almost all been illustrated in many posts."
Maybe what ended up on board was pithier, and hence my effort benefitedtted from the editorial input, but it was not what I had written. And I think it omitted some key aspects I thought important.
For that, at least I still have my own blog.
"Very good. Ignore the bishop. Enjoy the holiday. But please don't dismiss the message.
This is an excellent post, so long as one reads all of it.
I agree totally that one of the greatest impediments to promoting the benefits of responsible (the definition and scope of which is obviously still wide open) environmental practices by the individual, is the notion that everything green must be black and white. Nuances abound, and too often those that seek to effect positive (in a global warming sense) changes, for whatever reason (career to enhance, book to sell, viral to promote, consultancy to secure, pension fund to stock up... or possibly even genuine concern), have to think very carefully before taking a moral high ground and aggressively tackling a narrow topic, especially one that may be dear to their hearts. Especially from a position of relative privilege. And more so by the excessive use of comparative negativity. Because it can all too easily backfire, and while debate is great, I fear for effecting change when everyone is too busy pointing fingers at each other when they should be encouraged to just get on and do what they can. How much of the introduction to this post was strenuous rebuttal before the positive suggestions kicked in?
Things have to be debated, and I use the blog on my site (which tries to offer solutions, ideas and things to do to hopefully improve matters 'enviro') to do this a lot, and sometimes end up in some 'healthy discussions', which unlike here I prefer to conduct one-to-one offline, as things can get a bit flaming daft as the entrenched camps weigh in. Not long ago I tried to convince a respected media commentator that calling fellow petrolhead scribes 'selfish' (that word again) for their obsession with high speed exotica could have set in motion a confrontational situation that did not serve his point as well as adopting a less personal and reasoned approach might have, especially as he introduced his article as written on a plane to Australia.
My other concern was that he seemed to also be tipping the wink to groups who were engaging in 'more robust' commentary on the rights or wrongs of others to buy and use a legally and freely available consumer good. This cannot be a productive route, no matter what the frustrations. Now it seems it's a plan to spit in my farmer (they do wear suits and often visit the big city) neighbour's coffee, if a new anti 4x4 viral ad is to be emulated. I'm sure the making of this latter was carbon offset to the nth degree, but having been on a few shoots I very much doubt every aspect was totally 'environmentally sound' with no compromises to getting the job done on time and within budget. Cast and crew drinking water from a tap and not an spring water bottle in sight?
We have to accept the compromises of living in an overpopulated (and 'ing') world, with an infinite desire and ability to make new things and (at least in affluent countries) the means and desire to embrace them. People no longer stay in their village their whole lives, and the desire to travel is almost ingrained.
Hence better ways must be found to change behaviours, some of which look like being painful. And must be massive in scale. I only have to glance up at the contrails in the sky each day (or revisit BBC Horizon's Global Dimming documentary) to feel that air travel has to be to be a hefty influence in unnatural weather patterns. But reversing a global industry that employs millions, provides pleasure (accepting this is one instance when the journey is not part of the holiday) to hundreds of millions and brings in revenue to billions more is not going to happen easily. Especially when one looks at the rate of new airport construction in developing countries.
A start has to be made, somewhere, and as we cannot be unaware any more it may as well be at home. One can't really ask a neighbour to put their house in order when you have historically been trashing yours and enjoying the party up until now (and still want to). Examples must be set. Alternatives sought and offered. As suggested, subsidies to pollute need to be restricted, but incentives with rewards introduced wherever possible (the points on fuel tax and rail costs are well made). And such notions need to be (excuse the pun) aired. But by whom?
Hence pedestals should be mounted very circumspectly. And those who take it upon themselves - priest, politician, celeb, commentators... blog participants - to pronounce from them to others on what not to do should think very carefully on what qualifies them to do so. And before being too smug, ponder also what circumstances have allowed them to pontificate. I have read a lot lately on the 'Green Elite', and it is not a club, like many, I could easily afford - in money, time or opportunity - to join. So practice what you preach, and if you do preach what you practice please make it inspirational rather than critical. Nothing can compromise a message more than being accused of hypocrisy, which usually ends up distracting away from simply getting on and doing.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Sunday, July 23, 2006
There's a rather nice little website called Planet Science, targetted a younger audience, but does cover a fair mix of subjects in a user-friendly way.
Reminding me slightly of when my Civil Engineering degree progress hit my doing a Maths A level in 3 months (I once drew a cartoon of a climber hanging onto a cliff edge, entitled 'Another Failed Attempt At Scaling The Eigen Values' instead of answering a question about something I had no clue about), I would like to share their share by way of a a lighter break.
Not sure what the marking system at bottom right is, but surely the respondent did answer the question?
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Apologies for any subsequent duplications.
Every morning, I awake with the larks and spend a fair few hours sifting through the overnight email collection of newsletters from near and far, and often get sucked off on some tangent that can deliver the sweet fruit of more knowledge.
I also derive a pretty hefty collection of folk I'd like to get in touch with, and hope to get on board with Junkk.com (and us with them) in the cause of synergy and mutual benefit.
And more often than not I'll stumble across an award, competition, grant or somesuch that needs investigating and, possibly, applying for.
This is all good stuff, but really makes only a small difference to helping Junkk.com be the entity it was intended to be.
Especially because little, if any of this info is currently making it to our pages.
I'm just so busy accumulating, I simply do not have the time to turn this into something that can be of interest and use on the site. Which is plainly ridiculous.
Plus there are now countless very fine online publications, blogs & Forums producing excellent news and views, with healthy and growing readerships... with enviably tasty ad support to match. And it's frustrating, because I can honestly say that I have read few that have anything I have not already come across already and, if such things really mattered, noted a lot earlier as relevant. And while a small minority do make an analysis or pass comment (almost all US-based), most are simply reprints of PR releases. We are guilty of this too, but mainly with 'info' stuff that can just be passed on. In mitigation there is this blog and such as our new PPProR section.
But Junkk.com is mostly about 'doing', and though all is in place to freely allow that to happen by any who choose to do so (person or company), the process requires constant nudging along. Specifications, ideas... and then sharing this near and far to inspire and encourage and attract more.
And that crucial aspect is falling behind.
So we need help. Bodies on the ground. Money to pay for them. We are applying for support from NGOs, government, initiatives, etc, but they are seldom keen on funding people's time. They like widgets. And targets.
There is promise in certain awards we've submitted to, and our premise is the establishment of Junkk.com 'representation' around the country. Perhaps ten 'regions' to start with. A bit like the Freecycle coordinators, only perhaps a little less rigid, clubby and cliquey, a little lighter green... and a bit more commercial, which means we aim to reward efforts and time.
When, as we hope, the money comes in, would you like to be part of this? It will inevitably be a slow start as we're on a learning curve, and I can't guarantee big bucks, and maybe not much at all initially. We'd certainly not expect you to be out of pocket, even from the outset! The kind of thing we envisage is as follows for 'Local Heroes', as we've named this project :
* Liaison with recycling/reuse organizations and media.
* Attending local events/fetes.
* Highlighting local re-problems and success stories.
* Initiating and moderating Forums/FAQ's on local e-topics.
Carried out by:
* Talking to local people/word of mouth.
* Surfing & contributing to local media sites and Forums.
* Contacting local organizations/councils/shops via the Internet, telephone/meetings etc.
* Show/Exhibition presence (we're planning roadtrip exhibition support)
If you think you like the sound of that, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
...Or, at the very least, I'm on a list. No sooner does the Greenpeace 'viral' get sent to me, but now I have been sent another. At least the former was well targeted by the PR agency, but I'm damned if I know what some credit card has to do with my day.
I like(d) the idea of virals, at least as I understood them. But maybe I have missed the point. I thought it just like discovering new and edgy music used to be. An often vicarious pleasure, or through tuning into pirate stations, following anarchic DJs and haunting dodgy pubs, you stayed at the cutting edge. Now what's 'out here' is manufactured very much 'in here', and then served up under the guise of being raw. There are now archives, lists and awards. 'In people', who make sure we see what we're meant to, and nothing outside their control or ability to make some money from. There are probably already viral agencies (which I guess are like ad agencies only without the need to submit scripts or partner up with media buyers, though I guess they do now need PR agencies as a substitute).
When I was an aspiring creative, you begged, stole or borrowed to get a bit of time in an edit suite to cut a few frames together you'd knocked out on the HandyCam for the porty. Now it's full blown productions purporting to be without any corporate sanction or funding, when the dead hand of a trendy exec's brief is clear to all: 'use bad language, sex or violence (or all three) in some way that creates a hoo haa, and we'll get media coverage for free from the media gatekeepers who will be happy for the column inches/footage, and probably to lead to exposure more than the value of paid ads. Message is secondary. Action on the part of the consumer a surprise bonus.'
Meanwhile, I'm dusting off my HandyCam.... watch this space. No, really, watch this space...
My views on the whole 4x4 thing are well known (and if you don't know them, then there are around 400-odd posts to work back through to see that I don't own one, don't see the need for most to have one, but feel there are much bigger fish to fry, less divisively, than the current obsession some activists have with the stupid things. Any road up (geddit?), I was sent the latest Greenpeace 'viral' (not, as I thought was meant to be the way, by a chum, but rather the PR guys) and presume I am meant to pass it on. So here you are.
http://www.viralchart.com/media/clips/gasguzzler.wmv Windows media
As an ad person, I have seldom seen such an overlong, indulgent bit of tosh in my life, delivered with so little wit. You can affect change with satire and lampooning (I have some footage in mind that could be cut to mock Chelsea Tractor drivers with their own words), but not like this. I almost felt like buying one if only to stick it to the whole backstabbing, besuited, Specsaver-wearing, sneering bunch of them. While I didn't quite agree with the message, I was impressed with the anti-nuke version not so long ago, at least as an execution.
I presume that it was all shot to the highest ethical standards and carbon whatsits, and no member of the production team, cast or crew arrived on anything but a bike and drank only from taps.
But I just live for the moment that anyone involved who thinks its hip or smart to gob in someone's cup for making a currently free consumer choice gets hoist with their own petard. For instance when my mate the farmer's daughter gets out of Uni, and when she's asked for a decaf decides to get her own back for missing the train scraping Greenpeace posters (more concerned with advertising their sponsor's energy tariff) off her Dad's Land Rover.
This was a lot of money, too (unless it was all a porty job by some daft agency with more hype than sense in its sights). So I hope the extra subs they may get pay of the office, director's bonuses and pensions, with enough left over for the awards ceremony dash to Cannes and, oh, maybe some decent planet saving as well.
Because I very much doubt this will stop any potential purchaser (should they ever see it, which I doubt, unless Jeremy Clarkson has a go at it, which he might - see conspiracy theory in earlier posts), and simply set those with a grudge on a path from which no one will benefit.
I actually can't better this title, at least in the context of this blog topic, so I'll simply nick it - Winding up inventors. That's a blog in the Observer today, and their own link (lovingly cut & pasted, so it isn't me... honest) doesn't work, so I'll include a wee bitty of what it was all about here:
"Trevor Baylis is enthused. He's been asked to judge a competition to find an energy-saving invention and he's looking forward to seeing what people come up with."
I am of course grateful at yet another such an opportunity to stay indoors slaving over another application (hence my sticking with that title), but of course had my own thoughts (which you will not see as the blog link seems to be dead):
"Great initiative. I shall certainly be applying. Why not? It's free!
But such efforts do take time to enter. And having quickly scanned the competition site I just hope that it won't restrict itself (or at least favour) only to 'things', which is where the second page of the entry form seemed to be heading.
I once coined the phrase 'Widgets from Wigan Syndrome' (not in a happy way) after a UKTI (an NGO-type entity mightily staffed, and funded, to encourage export of the British 'wares') event. It became rather apparent that there is a lot more understanding of, and hence sympathy and support for designing a thing/widget.
Service or internet-based (ironically the section of the site about 'great energy ideas' is currently offline due to a fatal script error) ideas seem less easy to get folks' heads around. Something you can touch is often sexier and easier to 'get'.
However, while I truly believe and accept that 'inventions' need to be sustainable and substantial, there are so many things in the world of saving the world that can be more complex and subtle, and need not necessarily be a 'thing' whose value can be weighed between the cost to make and market vs. projected unit sales.
As a veteran of many an oil-company (eg: Shell), consumer good (eg: Rolex) and media (Guardian!) initiated and/or sponsored event of this nature, I'm crossing fingers that to stand a chance I don't necessarily need to break out the lathe.
And while the money is significant, and most certainly can go a long way to 'making something', it's worth noting that it will pale into insignificance with the true costs of bringing anything to market, especially the promotion side.
At least with media support this has a built-in 'step up' already, and hence has to be worth a go."
I just have to share this. Now I'm blogging on the blogger site, there's a lot more functionality to play with, such as a Spellchecker, which I just used on the last piece. The words it didn't recognise were 'blog' and 'blogging'.
So in future, I guess I'm writing a bloc.
There's a lot of blogging about blogging these days, and in writing this I feel a bit like one of those illusions using a mirror to reflect its own image in a mirror.... endless.
I think it best to draw a line, at least by the end of this.
I like blogging. Even if it's just for me, I can get stuff off my chest, leave a record (a chap on the BBC Newsnight blog I mentioned a few posts ago made a point - not necessarily the right way - about how those that ask our opinions very often don't print them (why should they?) but also often don't acknowledge them (which is plain rude. BBC's Working Lunch is a prime example mentioned, and it is not unique. Hence copying one's hard-crafted efforts onto one's own blog at least means they are published... somewhere) ) and remind myself of stuff. I also like to think they may have a broader appeal with value as entertainment, thought-provocation and plain information. I
If it gets a few folk back to my site, why not?
Friday, July 21, 2006
So it was, with interest, to note that they apparently check out all those who write about them.
Maybe it is because we have also tried writing to them on a few occasions that we have been ignored so far, but as the point to this post (and my inevitable reply - below) is rights of reply, we are in fairly meandering territory.
I guess the most important thing is to remember is that he or she who controls the medium controls what is said, or seen to be said. What you choose to include can still shape things to your purpose. Even in blogs.
"I have a blog, and it used to have the facility for responses. But while it was often good and valuable to engage in debate with respondents, I just didn't have enough hours in the day to deal with some issues going on and on, and it seemed rude to just leave things hanging. Plus the minute you get into controversial territory (and dealing as I do with environmental issues there are many... I can only wonder what Newsnight gets itself into, and not just with Ethical Man, which has been mentioned a few times here!) it can all too often get a bit flaming silly, even when you as the initiator stay hands off from the get-go!
So I don't quite agree that you should have to accept comments, unless you want to. It's a personal web log. Obviously by making it freely available you need to accept that it will get read (why else do it?), and those who objected as stated in the post are plain daft. I treat my blog as an opportunity to publish things as would any writer/journalist (am or pro), but perhaps a bit more 'raw' and less constrained to provide an alternative to the corporate view.
My site has a Forum for those who wish to engage (though we are tough moderators on those who try to dominate agendas with aggressive tactics, as we prefer to encourage those who just wish to ask questions and seek helpful answers), and there are plenty of ways to reach me to take matters further. I'd like to think that if there were worthy points to be made to something I have posted, I'd be big enough to reprint them... along with my answer!
But as with any media, I guess I feel certain editorial control is not unfair for the reasons stated above (mine and this blog's rules).
The laws of libel still surely still apply if one is seriously agitated, and in most other cases it is perhaps best just to ignore anyone trivial just being silly, unfair, etc. If it's on your blog then you have your audience to consider. If it's on their blog, well, it's a free(ish) world.
And if you decide not to include this, fine. But it will of course be on mine!"
Junkk.com needs to do something similar, but perhaps a tad more... us as opposed to US.
This has happened before, and doubtless will again.
I tend to write my blogs as emails and then send them in. It is just quicker and easier.
But every so often, they 'vanish' in transit. So the last few are in the ether. They may pop up; they may not. If the don't I'll have to 'go manual' and repost, so apologies for any out of sequence or duplicates.
I of course tried the help, FAQs and Forum, but nothing there (at least in the first hundred posts) , and have an auto-reply from the support team but expect little.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
"Why? Talk is cheap. Doing costs... especially money. Not attractive to those more keen on making gold before green (I advocate they need not be mutually exclusive). Short-termism is rife these days, especially in boardrooms and cabinets. CEOs and ministers will be long in their gold-plate-pension-funded mausoleums before the consequences of their actions kick in. It's hard, not very fashionable, and probable career suicide, to think a few generations hence.There are those who care, and seek to act. So as someone who has invested a lot personally in a small effort to redress the situation, please be careful with that rather broad, negative 'we'.Controlling, restricting, scaring, banning, fining, etc may all serve certain roles. But these and even 'informing', using millions of taxpayers' money, are not really delivering a great ROI so far, planet-saving wise. So I applaud your incentive-driven advocacy.A rallying cry of ‘Re:wards 4 Anything 'Re:'!'Might even catch on."
"Whilst waiting to see if my previous post on this has been accepted, I now see a fair few have appeared. So I hope I may add another comment.
It is interesting, inevitable, ironic but a little sad that such a piece seems to have generated so much more talk surrounding the 'factual' causes of global warming and/or man's contribution. Or not. With a 2-wrongs dose or two of 'But they're doing it'.
I do care, but in the context of the piece do such issues matter?
Surely it is simply efficient in this ever more populating world to engage with every and any cost-effective reduction in waste - and maximisation of efficiency - that we can?
Or we can just keep on talking, and squandering the one resource that Status Quo fans would deny us: time."
Monday, July 17, 2006
And just to add a bit more 'to the mix', here's a littel snippet on how your average media news person has fared so far, from Newsnight's 'Ethical Man' series.
New Spin Tactic? Forget scientists... let's use comedians! Christian Science Monitor today employs a comedian to battle global warming science, with such insight as: "...we shouldn't worry about the distant future." I guess they figure the PR stall tactics aren't working anymore so they're going to humour us into inaction.
Friday, July 14, 2006
This one is interesting. There I was in my local community centre, and what catches my eye but a leaflet advertising Freecycle. 'Ello, ello,' I says, 'where did they get the promo budget for all this, and how?'
Well, on closer inspection the answer to where is in the logos at the bottom. A few nice councils and some NGOs with tasty budgets.
How, of course, is another matter. And especially as I see merit in seeing how we can get them to engage with Junkk.com in the same way.
This, of course, will be an adventure.
The key hurdle is contained within that phrase 'voluntary
international organisation'. Which is up there in largesse attraction from funders with 'not for profit' and 'charity'. Those on nice index-
linked salaries and gold-plated pensions prefer you to either not be
making any money, or better yet a living either.
Now Freecycle is dead spiffy. It's free and serves a great re-
function. Just like our very own JunkkYard, and of course all the
other additional re-features Junkk.com brings that can prevent waste.
But sadly, even though we don't charge anyone for anything, we are
'commercial' so I see certain obstacles already, even though we by
any measure are doing a lot of good and deserve equal support.
Worth a try though. Watch this space.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
Europe’s carbon-trading scheme has started awkwardly but could be a useful model
IMAGINE a world in which the driver of a small, fuel-efficient car, or even a cyclist, can sell his quota of pollution credits to the owner of a gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicle. The seller is rewarded for doing his bit to keep the planet green, the buyer pays a bit more for the privilege of warming the earth on his way to the supermarket.
I pop this in because it is similar to the recent aviation debate. I say similar rather than identical because I think car travel in some form or other is a simple necessity that it's hard to imagine society being able to manage without, where a lot of air travel is more of a luxury that we probably can reduce more easily (anguished cries from the travel industry).
I'm still trying to get my head around this. On balance getting rewarded for getting from A to B in the most eco manner is to be lauded, but I can't quite see giving free rein to rich petrolheads is the way to go either. But then this is pretty much what I was advocating for air travel between an eskimo and a frequent flyer, so hey-ho.
A fair point was made in the debate instigated by MEP Dr. Lucas (recent blog), where she was rather held to account for how her air travel came across as slightly more 'necessary' than others, which is a bit of pedestal posing on the part of the pols I have raised before, when the haves decide who keeps and who has not in future.
But we do rather get to a pretty draconian level of mandatory maximums on personal travel. It reminds me a bit of a very funny piece (well, they all were) in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where visitors to a planet have to account for their bodily impact during their stay, so getting a receipt at the loo is pretty vital to avoid painful consequences in the departure lounge
I guess it's a case of two legs good.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
I'm always up for a freebie. And it seems churlish to complain when
it's delivered, but I'm afraid I find this one a bit daft and worthy
A wee while ago I came across an offer by a major paper company
(whose products we're happy to use) to request a recycling box (or
three). Well, we always have a use for a box, so why not? And I duly
Well, they arrived. And dead spiffy they are too.
But does it really make sense for them have come all the way from
Germany... by courier!
And would it have been beyond their ken to make the boxes their paper
gets delivered in provide the same purpose. An opportunity lost.
Full marks for the sentiment. Nil points for much else, I'm afraid.
Time now for one of my cheeky eyebrow raises. After the flurry of eco-
articles on travel, cars, etc, I couldn't help be notice that the
media's fervour has moved on a bit, and so not much mention of the
footy WAGS using private jets like taxis.
And now I have spotted this: Me and My Motors: Maria Sharapova
"When Maria Sharapova came from nowhere to win Wimbledon aged just
17, she was still being ferried to training sessions in the family’s
ageing Honda — the only car the Sharapovas had ever owned. Fast
forward two years and the 19-year-old Russian will be chauffeur-
driven to the All England club in a £50,000 Range Rover Sport."
I'm just a bit intrigued as to why a) a 4x4 is necessary to navigate
the wilds of Wimbledon and b), perhaps more interestingly, why no one
that I can spot from the green brigade (I'm green lite so don't
count) has yet had a peep to say about it.
Then again, I wonder how many of our green elite are parked in centre
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
From the office of the South-East England’s Green MEP Caroline Lucas
AIRLINES REELING AFTER EU CLIMATE CHANGE VOTEMEPs ADOPT GREEN PROPOSALS TO CUT FLYING’S IMPACT ON CLIMATEAIRLINES have been left reeling after a vote in the European Parliamentcalled for a raft of measures to tackle their growing contribution toclimate change.Euro-MPs in Strasbourg voted by 439 to 74 to adopt proposals drafted byGreen Party MEP Caroline Lucas to introduce a range of measures including anairlines-only CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme and emissions charges to tackletheir non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. There were 102 abstentions.Dr Lucas told fellow MEPs the EU must take action to curb airlines’greenhouse gas emissions if we are to stand any chance of avoidingdevastating climate change: “Doing nothing just isn’t an option”."The aviation sector is growing fast – aircraft movements are predicted todouble by 2020 and triple by 2030 - and technological efficiency gains justaren't enough to counteract the massive increases in emissions that thiswill generate.“We simply have no choice but to clip the airlines' wings and force them toreduce their impact on the climate, if we are to stand any chance of cuttingour emissions by the level that’s needed to halt the deadly march of climatechange."Airlines currently enjoy a complex array of tax breaks and hidden subsidies- worth more than £9 billion in the UK alone - which are long outdated andtotally incompatible with global climate goals. International progress onremoving these and getting the industry to pay its way has been pitifullyslow, which is why we must ensure the EU really paves the way for globalaction by introducing the most effective legislation possible.“Emissions trading has the potential to play a role in reducing the climatechange impact of aviation - but only if it is accompanied by other measuresto tackle the fact that aircraft emissions are two to four times more potentthan those from other industries (because of the altitude at which they areemitted, and the effects of non-CO2 emissions like condensation trails andnitrogen oxides) – and, crucially, only if it doesn’t allow airlines tocarry on business as usual by gobbling up the emission rights of othersectors.”MEPs have been intensively lobbied by the airlines in recent weeks – withmost calling for air travel to be included in the EU’s existing EmissionsTrading Scheme: a measure which will do little to deter airlines’ futureemissions growth. Even Andrew Sentance, BA’s head of environmental affairs,openly admitted as much last week.Dr Lucas’s report will now form the Parliament’s submission to the EUCommission’s forthcoming legislative proposals – which could be on the EUstatute book by 2008.“At a time when few now deny the urgency of addressing climate change, therapid growth in flying threatens to throw all efforts to reduce dangerousemissions off course,” added Dr Lucas, who is also an MEP for South-EastEngland and Green Party Principal Speaker.“We must work together to find ways of making the aviation industry reduceits social and environmental impact, rather than draining tax payers’ cashas it continues to generate pollution, noise, congestion – and climatechange.”
Aviation is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change. As part of Airportwatch, Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to rethink its aviation policy - you can make a difference by emailing the Secretary of State for Transport at http://www.rethink.airportwatch.org.uk/ You can also lessen your environmental impact by holidaying in the UK or finding alternative ways to travel at http://www.seat61.com (includes destinations in the UK, Europe and beyond).
Almost all changes in waste policy in the UK rely on European Union laws. The EU is currently discussing a revision of waste laws, with both EU Member States and the European Parliament voting to decide what changes. Friends of the Earth wants to persuade the UK Government to push for improvements. Email Ian Pearson MP, the UK Minister for the Environment, to push for more waste prevention and maximum recycling - visit http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/waste/press_for_change/eu/
Of course I could not resist a slight tweak, but as you'll gather should you compare, I think they got the content and tone pretty much right on: